Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Capitol Hill Crime on the Rise

    The recent uptick in crime in the area surrounding Seattle University has been cause for concern since January of this year, particularly in popular public spaces like Cal Anderson Park.

    The Seattle Police Department reported that there were 84 aggravated assaults and 89 robberies on Capitol Hill between January and August of 2014. Last year, there were 77 aggravated assaults and 81 robberies in that same time frame. These numbers seem particularly high when compared to the 48 aggravated assaults and 59 robberies reported by the SPD between January and August 2012.

    Cal Anderson Park has been a backdrop for a disturbing number of violent offenses. On Aug. 1, two men were robbed at gunpoint by a group of four or five males. According to police spokesperson Drew Fowler, one of the robbers pulled out a gun and ordered the two men to hand over their wallets and phones.

    Details of the incident are hazy, but at some point during the altercation, the gun went off. The bullet grazed the head of a victim, according to Fowler.

    Nearby officers who heard the gunshot investigated the disturbance and saw a group of males running away from the scene. One of the robbers, a 17-year-old male, was arrested and found to have the wallet and cell phone of one of the victims, as well as the offending fire arm. No other arrests have been made.

    Further, a victim told police he was robbed in broad daylight on Sept. 15. According to the victim, the man held him up near the basketball court by Cal Anderson with a 9-mm. pistol. Police believe the robber may be the same man associated with several other crimes in the area, including harassment and weapons charges. Police are still searching for the assailant, but no arrests have been made.

    The SPD reported that there have been some 22 robberies near Pike Street and Cal Anderson Park since Aug. 9. In response to this rise in crime, police are making efforts to ramp up police presence in the area.

    Newly instated chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole recently met with residents of the area to discuss the issue and calm concerns about the rise in violence. O’Toole said she would “flood” the streets of Capitol Hill with officers for as long as it takes to quell the tide of crime.

    Deputy Chief Carmen Best released a statement that the SPD will meet again with community members in two weeks to discuss what they expect will be “a marked difference.”

    According to police, the tactics employed by criminals have been very similar, leading to the suspicion that the same two or three groups of individuals are committing the robberies.

    Capt. Pierre Davis, who heads the East Precinct (where Seattle U is located), said in a press statement to the Seattle Times that, “a majority of these were a roving band of two or a band of five or six. They’d strike up a conversation, ask for a cigarette or ask to use cellphones and assess how intoxicated people are.”

    The robbers would then assault the victims before completing the robbery by collecting phones and wallets.

    In the press statement, Davis explained that oftentimes victims are so drunk that they struggle to accurately tell officers what happened to them or offer a description of the person or group that assaulted them. In light of this fact, Washington State Liquor Control Board agents will be a part of the increased police presence on Capitol Hill. According to Davis, they will be looking into an allegation that bars have been over-serving patrons.

    The Department of Public Safety at Seattle U has a limited ability to fix the problem. Still, in response to two strong-armed robberies last month the university increased patrols and offered a list of advice (as is the tendency whenever safety is threatened around campus). Among the tips are things such as “use your intuition,” and “don’t let people get too close, even to inquire about the time.”

    Additionally, Public Safety offers several means of assisting students who feel unsafe on or around campus. Public Safety has available walking escorts for lone travelers, and the Nighthawk Escort Program is an easy and effective means of traveling up to six blocks from campus for free. Lastly, there are strategically placed red emergency phone kiosks around campus from which a student may call 911 or Public Safety.

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